Concerns about cybersecurity and online survey fraud are enough to make any marketer or market researcher nervous about switching to digital rewards. But survey incentive security doesn’t need to be an issue if you follow a few best practices.
There are two parts to survey security. The first is data privacy and protection, which applies mostly to the information you collect from respondents. The second is survey fraud committed by cheaters, speeders, and bots, which destroy the integrity and usefulness of any insights you collect. Cheaters obviously refers to those who try to get more rewards by taking the survey multiple times or forwarding the link to others who shouldn’t be taking it. Speeders, on the other hand, are respondents who take your survey very quickly, not thinking about their answers or perhaps not even reading the questions. Bots — which are often used for non-nefarious purposes, such as offering on-demand customer service or testing websites for broken links — can also be configured to cheat the system and corrupt your data.
The fight against these concerns starts with choosing providers and partners that you can trust and that are just as dedicated to security as you are — your programs are only as safe as theirs are. Beyond that, these four steps will let you be confident that your survey incentives and data are protected.
Privacy regulations are getting stricter and more widespread. Consumers have come to expect a certain level of protection against their data being misused or distributed. That isn’t always an easy thing to promise, evident by the constant news stories about company data breaches. And the problem is getting worse: According to Statista, there were 1,001 cases of data breaches in the U.S. in 2020, compared with just 157 in 2005 and 662 in 2010. In addition, more than 155.8 million individuals were affected by data exposures due to inadequate information security.
Minimize that risk by managing your digital rewards with a platform that is committed to using security best practices. For instance, SOC 2-compliant providers have gone through an extensive auditing procedure to ensure they manage data securely and protect customers’ privacy. Your rewards management platform should also comply with key privacy regulations, including the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation, or GDPR, and the California Consumer Privacy Act. Health care researchers have the added privacy burdens of HIPAA, or the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, so seek out platforms especially equipped to handle those issues.
While abuse of survey rewards is relatively rare, offering an incentive can sometimes be tempting for cheaters, speeders, and bots. You can proactively prevent any fraudulent activity by using unique survey links in the invitation. These can be used only once, and therefore the reward can be requested only once. Almost every survey platform, including Qualtrics, SurveyMonkey and Alchemer (formerly SurveyGizmo), offers this capability. For surveys where you need to collect the reward delivery email separately in order to keep responses anonymous, make it clear that the email address entered must match the one where the invitation was sent.
Get familiar with all the security features offered by the available survey platforms and rewards management programs. For example, many of these tools have the capability to detect and prevent duplicate responses from the same device, so make sure that functionality is turned on. In addition, survey platforms can offer other built-in protections, such as Qualtrics’ ExpertReview feature. Using artificial intelligence and machine learning, it can identify respondents who complete the survey much faster than average and use captcha technology to weed out bots. Submissions that are determined to be fraudulent can be automatically discarded, redirected for separate analysis, or flagged in the platform so they can be filtered and inspected.
Beyond the survey tool, a rewards platform with an approval workflow, like Rybbon, can help further minimize abuse. If you are collecting reward delivery emails in a survey question or using an end-of-survey form, make sure to tell recipients both in the survey invitation and at the point of email address collection that their reward is subject to approval. That should discourage many of the people trying to cheat the system. With the approval workflow turned on, you can require human intervention to review and confirm each entry before the reward is sent. Rybbon’s rule-based bulk approval capabilities also make it practical to review and approve a large number of survey responses.
Ensure survey incentive security and high deliverability rates with a platform that allows trusted delivery of rewards. This means that the reward emails sent to respondents come from your own company’s domain — ideally, from the same address that sent the survey invitation — rather than a third party. It’s also important that this address is authorized and not spoofed; otherwise it may be flagged by server or spam filters. While not strictly a security issue, customizing the reward emails with your company logo and branding will instill your recipients with confidence that they are not getting scammed. They have every right to worry, after all, considering the increasingly common survey scams out there. Plus, adding your own touch to the emails raises your brand exposure and recognition.
Choosing the right survey and rewards tools can go a long way in helping you minimize risks and make your digital incentives secure. Ask questions about security certifications and compliance to industry standards. Insist on features that incorporate data protection and streamline fraud avoidance at every step of the process.
Get started today by checking out Rybbon’s digital rewards management platform and its commitment to security.